Motorcycle Speeding Ticket, Fight it?
As we get through the heart of winter, for some reason I started reading about speeding tickets. If you go on the internet, you can’t help but notice there is a huge business fighting traffic tickets. For a few hundred bucks, these services mostly help you prepare for a trial by declaration, meaning you send in your defense by mail, and hope it flies.
The whole topic got me wondering about the statistics involved, since we all know that traffic tickets are seen primarily as a cash cow by our government, who uses law enforcement to exact this random tax.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 112,000 people receive a speeding ticket every day! This adds up to 41,000,000 people getting ticketed per year, or 20.6% of all drivers.
The average cost of a speeding ticket is $152.00, and this adds up to an average annual revenue per U.S. Police officer of $300,000.00. This huge industry brings in annual revenue from paid tickets of $6,232,000,000.00. That’s well over six billion dollars. An enormous industry.
Here’s where it gets interesting. This is fabulously profitable, because only 5% get contested in traffic court. A courtroom costs around $7,500.00 per day to operate, and court budgets are being cut left and right. Additionally, district attorney’s offices are swamped with real crimes, and police departments say they are stretched.
Can you imagine what would happen if everyone decided to fight their ticket? First, the profit would quickly evaporate. Second, they would have to figure out a different way to handle the tickets.
Currently, it is improper for a Judge or Traffic Commissioner to act both as the Judge and the Prosecutor, although this seems to go on with some regularity.
Where the ticket fighting services live, is that the system giving out these tickets is somewhat lazy. The more work it is to collect the money, the more likely it is that you will beat your ticket. Some of it, of course, is luck.
If you do get hit with a ticket, make sure you add up not just the cost of the ticket, but also the cost of your increased insuring rates, before you decide it is not worth the money to take on the system.
Incidentally, as of this year, you can challenge your ticket without first being required to pay the fines. In the past, people were discouraged because they had to pay first, then take their chances.
In the last ten years, nearly 5,000,000 million Californians have had their licenses suspended because of unpaid fines. Traffic trials are notoriously weighted in favor of the citing officer, and courts and judges operate a system that seems designed to discourage fighting of tickets.
That said, I think there is some real underlying fear that if drivers took on the system en mass, the government would have a hard time holding the line.